Catching up with… Doris Blaesing
Works at: RM Consulting Group (RMCG)
Hi Doris, thank you for taking the time to chat with us!
Firstly, can you please tell us about your role at RMCG and what it involves?
I am working in a consultancy role as well as mentoring people to help them develop in their careers. I mainly work in RMCG’s core areas of Horticulture, Recycled Water and Organics and Rural Industry Development, and provide input in other work areas such as Environment and Climate Change or Integrated Water and Organics Management – looking at projects that focus on putting research into practice and training.
This happens via industry levy-funded projects, as well as providing advice to industry organisations, government or businesses; projects that cover strategic or practical aspects. Stakeholder consultation is an important part of the work. Lately, many workshops and training sessions were delivered online. I am looking forward to seeing people in person again soon.
What has been your career pathway? How have you ended up where you are today?
I studied horticulture at Hannover University. I selected the course from a book about study options. It seemed so varied and interesting – covering topics from science to economy, including courses with production focus (fruit, vegetable, indoor plant and wood plant nursery). My PhD focused on soil and plant health/productivity interactions. I then moved to Scotland to work at the then McCauley Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen. I remember spending many days and also nights and weekends studying root systems and interactions between species. I also loved Scotland and still do.
I returned to Germany for a research and teaching position at Hannover University. About one year after that, fate brought me to Australia – and I am still glad it did. I worked in the Victorian Department of Agriculture undertaking postharvest research. I then moved on as Horticulture Manager for a Tasmanian vegetable export company, then back into research with Serve-Ag Research (Peracto, Staphyt) before becoming project and business development manager with the agribusiness, Serve-Ag. I now use my experience as a consultant with RMCG.
If there is one aspect that characterises my career, it is innovation. This includes:
- Development of modified atmosphere packaging with then ICI Films (Life Span).
- Exporting the first container of tulip bulbs from Australia to Holland together with a second Tasmanian producer.
- Developing an analytical lab with a focus on fast turnaround services (AgVita Analytical).
- Starting a RMCG team in Tasmania.
I travel extensively as part of my work and hope to get into it again soon.
What attracted you to horticulture in the beginning?
As said above, I selected it from a book. My mum says that I focused on soil science because I always liked to play in the dirt (and got into trouble because the dirt seemed to stick).
What do you find most rewarding about working in the vegetable industry?
I get really excited about the changes in soil and crop management that growers have been implementing over the years. They are juggling many demands on their time and finances, and still innovate and take risks.
I admire the resilience and inventive capacity in the industry, as well as the willingness to share a lot of information for the good of the industry. I have travelled all over Australia visiting growers and agronomists, and I am grateful for their hospitality and willingness to chat and show me what they are doing.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Key areas are soil and plant health, workforce development, use of recycled organics as soil amendments, reducing and recycling waste and wastewater.
Looking to 2021, what’s in the pipeline in terms of project activities?
I believe the main focus areas will remain. I am keen to combine knowledge and work with others on supporting viable circular economy initiatives, reducing the impact of climate change and fostering economic and environmentally sustainable production.
Where can growers find out more about your project activities, and how can they get in touch if they would like to be involved?
Soil Wealth ICP Phase 2 (VG16078) is a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable and Potato Funds.
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation using the vegetable, fresh potato and processing potato research and development levies and contributions from the Australian Government.
Project Number: VG16078
Each week, the Weekly Update will be featuring a member of the vegetable industry. Whether you are a grower, a researcher or work in the supply chain, this is a chance to showcase the different roles and areas within horticulture. If you – or someone you know – would like to be involved, please email Michelle De’Lisle at email@example.com.